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   Australian group of hackers and phreakers which had its roots in

   Western Australia, decided to take the mickey out of Day. Two members,

   Pick and Minnow, clipped Day's now famous soundbite. Before long, Day

   appeared to be saying, `It's not a criminal act. It's a game'--to the

   musical theme of `The Bill'. The Neuro-cactus crowd quickly spread

   their lampoon across the underground via an illicit VMB connected to

   its own toll-free 008 number.

  

   Although Day does perhaps take himself somewhat seriously, it can't be

   much fun for him to deal with this monkey business week in and week

   out. More than one hacker has told me with great excitement, `I know

   someone who is working on getting Day's home number'. The word is that

   a few members of the underground already have the information and have

   used it. Some people think it would be hilarious to call up Day at

   home and prank him. Frankly, I feel a bit sorry for the guy. You can

   bet the folks in traffic operations don't have to put up with this

   stuff.

  

   But that doesn't mean I think these pranksters should be locked up

   either.

  

   If we, as a society, choose not to lock hackers up, then what should

   we do with them?

  

   Perhaps a better question is, do we really need to do anything with

   them?

  

   One answer is to simply ignore look-see hacking. Society could decide

   that it makes more sense to use valuable police resources to catch

   dangerous criminals--forgers, embezzlers, white-collar swindlers,

   corporate spies and malicious hackers--than to chase look-see hackers.

  

   The law must still maintain the capacity to punish hard where someone

   has strayed into what society deems serious crime. However, almost any

   serious crime committed by a hacker could be committed by a non-hacker

   and prosecuted under other legislation. Fraud, wilful damage and

   dealing in stolen property are crimes regardless of the medium--and

   should be punished appropriately.

  

   Does it make sense to view most look-see hackers--and by that I mean

   hackers who do not do malicious damage or commit fraud--as criminals?

   Probably not. They are primarily just a nuisance and should be treated

   as such. This would not be difficult to do. The law-makers could

   simply declare look-see hacking to be a minor legal infringement. In

   the worst-case scenario, a repeat offender might have to do a little

   community service. But such community service needs to be managed

   properly. In one Australian case, a corrections officer assigned a

   hacker to dig ditches with a convicted rapist and murderer.

  

   Many hackers have never had a job--in part because of the high youth

   unemployment in some areas--and so their community service might be

   their first `position'. The right community service placement must

   involve hackers using their computer skills to give something back to

   society, preferably in some sort of autonomous, creative project. A

   hacker's enthusiasm, curiosity and willingness to experiment can be

   directed toward a positive outcome if managed properly.

  

   In cases where hacking or phreaking has been an addiction, the problem

   should be treated, not criminalised. Most importantly, these hackers

   should not have convictions recorded against them, particularly if